Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen look to solve defense, turnover woes

By Eric Mansfield

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Before the Massachusetts women’s basketball team went on their most recent six-game losing streak, it held Rhode Island to 39 points, a feat the Minutewomen had not accomplished since 2005.

While it’s important to note that the Rams (1-22, 0-8 A-10) are at the bottom of the Atlantic 10, the team’s defensive struggles since that game cannot be ignored.

Since that contest, UMass’ (6-17, 1-7 A-10) opponents have scored an average of 74.3 points per game. In three of the games during the losing streak, the opponent has managed to score at least 80 points, including a home game versus Dayton and its last two road games at Charlotte (15-8, 7-2 A-10) and at La Salle (11-12, 5-3 A-10).

In the last two affairs, each opponent was able to shoot over 50 percent from the field. Combined, the teams were able to make 15 3-pointers.

After the game at La Salle, in an interview with UMass Athletics, UMass coach Sharon Dawley was well aware of the struggles on the defensive side of the ball.

“We all need to do a better job on the defensive end,” said Dawley. “We’re just giving up too many points … [and] gave shooters just too much room.”

Minutewomen continue to give up the ball

Turnovers came back to bite the Mintuewomen against La Salle with the team’s 25 in the game, which has proved to be a common problem throughout the season. This result came after UMass held their turnover total to just 15 against Charlotte

Dawley recognized the flaw in UMass’ game, reiterating that continuing to give the ball up will only prove more detrimental against certain teams.

“[There are] too many unforced turnovers in the half court,” said Dawley. “That’s going to kill us against [St. Bonaventure] because they only average 10 turnovers. They’re going to protect the ball, they’re going to press us.”

Easier schedule to come

After its game against the Bonnies, the Minutewomen will have plenty more opportunities to get back on the winning track. While UMass stands second-to-last in the conference, four of its last six games will include teams in the bottom half of the conference.

While the team is losers of nine of its last 10, the Minutewomen can look to the second half comeback it made against La Salle if it wants to know how to improve. During the run, UMass relied on one of its strengths –  its three-point shooting – in order to cut the once 17-point deficit into a three-point hole with 12 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the second half.

That shooting, along with a greater attention to controlling the ball, are a pair of areas that help UMass avoid a longer losing streak.

Of its remaining six games, half of them will be in Amherst while the other half takes place on the road.

On the season, UMass has a record of 2-8 at home and 3-8 on the road.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Mansfield.

 

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